2022 Intentions – April Reflections

I wrote about my 2022 Intentions (as an alternative to resolutions) during the new year. After wrapping up April it’s time to reflect again. As a reminder, “intentions” are the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day. The intent is to do (be) my best on any given day…in any given moment. There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.


April was another challenging month with us being locked down (along with the entire city of Shanghai). For those that are not aware, Shanghai is taking a very strict approach to locking down due to the spike in covid cases. Starting in March we began to experience restrictions from leaving our community and in April we were mostly restricted to staying in our own homes with the only exception for getting covid testing. We are blessed with a garden and so unlike many that are stuck in apartments with no recourse, I do have more space to stretch, but I must say this is getting quite tiring and for all the people of Shanghai, quite sad. One bright spot is seeing the neighborhood become more neighborly with people sharing when running out of supplies and collaborating on bulk orders to secure new supplies. Ironically I’ve “met” more neighbors during lock-down then I ever met during ‘normal’ times.

With regard to my intentions, it’s been an up and down month with some low spots and some bright spots. Let’s take a look — here are my reflections for each intention.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

My first 2022 Intention was to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up. Given my normal sleep patterns I decided to wake and get up at 5 a.m. (with a 9-9:30 sleep target to ensure I got enough sleep to feel rested).

In April I generally kept to this 5am get-up schedule but with my working from home due to the lock-down I didn’t need as much time in the morning and I sometimes ended up taking a nap even before work started, which never really felt that restful. I’d say in the past week or so I’ve gotten more on track with this regard and am feeling less sluggish.

#2 Intention: Move

My second 2022 Intention was to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here was whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move.

Moving was by far the biggest challenge for me this month with me clocking in exercise only sporadically. Walking hasn’t been a choice due to the lockdown (and it’s my preferred option for moving when I’m low energy), but I do have options for yoga and an exercise bike. So it’s really just a matter of reminding myself of my intention and taking a first step to get going.

#3 Intention: Be

My third 2022 Intention was to “Be”. To meditate each day.

My general habit was to meditate after yoga each day and with my lapses in yoga I also lapsed a bit in meditation. But in the second half of the month I started to meditate more by telling myself if I’m not going to do yoga I can still meditate. This “permission” unlocked me a bit.

#4 Intention: Create

My fourth 2022 Intention was to “Create”. To write and or create art each day.

Here, I excelled. In celebration of national poetry month the muse was with me and I wrote over 75 poems over the course of the month. I’ve been wonderfully prolific and this has been a bright light for me throughout the month. I even published my sixth book this month after starting the work on it in March — a very fast cycle from idea to fruition (and definitely atypical). The book is a collection of illustrated silly poetry and you can learn more about the book here if your interested.


So there they are. My April reflections. A mixed bag, but if I think back holistically at my month I’ve done something to take care of myself everyday and that is something I can (and do) feel good about myself for. I’m not going to make any adjustments to my intentions as I still feel that they are all positive directions for me.

I do sincerely hope that the situation here in Shanghai eases and people regain some freedom. People need to feel some lightheartedness and joy.

How was April for you?

Be well,

Monty


Dance Free (Waltmarie)

Since it’s poetry month, I thought I would try out some new forms and I bumped into a great blog post from A Different Perspective listing out 13 poetic form prompts. A big thanks to them for the inspiration

Prompt 12

Write a Waltmarie poem or

Write a poem about healing

A Different Perspective by muisopsis

Here are the guidelines for a Waltmarie:

– Made up of ten lines
– Even lines are two syllables
– Odd lines are longer (no syllable count requirement)
– Even lines make up a mini-poem if read separately
– No other requirements (e.g. rhyme, theme)

The Waltmarie sounds like a dance and with the two poems intermingling it’s aptly named. So come along and dance with me!

Warning: This poem turned out to be a very somber dance and references self-harm. Please pass if your uncomfortable with this topic.


Dance Free

From my neck my head hangs loosely
My mind
Eased by the pull of gravity
My heart
Forgiven by the strength of rope
My hurt
Soothed by the rhythmic swinging
My soul
Released above the toppled chair to
Dance free


I didn’t realize I was going to get so heavy with this. While I have struggled with depression and suicidal ideation/self-harm throughout my life, I’m in a good place now. This poem is pulling from times past when I believed my healing could only come from death. Gratefully I’ve learned that I can heal through acceptance. Creativity — writing and art, have been instrumental in helping me with acceptance. Thus I feel it’s quite appropriate (and beautiful) that the mini poem within reads:

Dance Free

My mind,
My heart,
My hurt,
My soul,
Dance free.


Be well,

Monty


2022 Intentions – March Reflections

I wrote about my 2022 Intentions (as an alternative to resolutions) during the new year. After wrapping up March it’s time to reflect again. As a reminder, “intentions” are the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day. The intent is to do (be) my best on any given day…in any given moment. There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.


Woah! March was a tough one. I really struggled throughout the month. “My best” proved to be a lot less this month than prior months. Not as an excuse, but just as context I started this month trying to recover from a cold and we’ve been in and out of lock-downs (currently in) due to Covid restrictions. This meant a lot less energy and opportunity for getting active. I’d love to be writing another rosy reflection for the month, but sometimes that’s just not how things go and I think it’s important to share these times as much as it is to share the more positive ones. To get a sense of this month’s ups and downs you might want to check out my posts “The Slumps” and “The Unslumpening”.

With all that said, here are my reflections for each intention.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

My first 2022 Intention was to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up. Given my normal sleep patterns I decided to wake and get up at 5 a.m. (with a 9-9:30 sleep target to ensure I got enough sleep to feel rested).

In March, I found that I needed more sleep and it was very challenging to get up (and stay up). It was a month of sleeping in a little bit more and lot’s of naps.

How do I feel? Sluggish and, if I’m fully honest with myself, a bit lazy. I know I said intentions are not about feeling guilty and bad about myself, but these feelings sometimes trickle in. Not getting off to a good start each day, made it even more challenging to live into my other intentions. But today is a new day and new opportunity for a fresh start (as is everyday), so I’m still optimistic in the big picture.

#2 Intention: Move

My second 2022 Intention was to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here was whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move.

Getting my butt off the chair was as challenging this month as “rising and shining” and there is absolutely a connection between the two. I got a rash on my wrist and ended up taking a break from wearing my Apple Watch so I don’t have tracking for the month, but it was way down for sure.

How do I feel? Well, sluggish as I mentioned above, but I know what I need to do. My plan is to take a small step back in the amount of exercise I’m targeting each day and ease back into it with gentler yoga routines and shorter walks/bike rides. Focusing more on starting to move vs. how much I move. Feel free to leave me a pep talk in the comments to cheer me forward. Hehe.

#3 Intention: Be

My third 2022 Intention was to “Be”. To meditate each day.

I’ve been less consistent in March, but still meditating more than not. I’m now at a modest four day streak and feeling better.

How do I feel? At this point I think you know…I feel sluggish. I also noticed on days that I didn’t meditate I started to feel some anxiety (which is not too common for me as I usually lean toward depression vs. anxiety). I definitely know meditation is good for me and I’m feeling better these past few days for it.

#4 Intention: Create

My fourth 2022 Intention was to “Create”. To write and or create art each day.

Well, here is one area that I have been living up to fully every day. Since January, I’ve written every day and created illustrations/art on many days as well. I’ve posted over 150 blog posts so far this year and I’ve got a great month planned ahead for April as it is both poetry month and the #AtoZChallenge. Check out my theme reveal for the #AtoZChallenge and look forward to some seriously silly poetry all month long in April. In addition, The Golden Shovel is back for April! I invite you to join in.

How do I feel? Inspired! There is nothing like creating something from nothing. I love it. I even submitted a collection of poetry to a publisher for consideration. Wish me luck!


Well there they are. My 2022 March reflections. While I will not make any changes to my intentions overall, as mentioned, I will adjust my “move” expectations to help me ease back into a more active daily pattern.

How was March for you?

Be well,

Monty


The Slumps

I caught the slumps. I get them periodically. The thesaurus calls them the doldrums or malaise, but the slumps are what I got. It’s not quite the dumps, but heading downward in that direction. I try to look-up, but all I see is the floor. I’m walking around feeling quite poor. I’m struggling writing this piece. I feel I’ve nothing meaningful to say on this day. But I write on. I write on. I write on and on thinking I might write my way to having something to say.

My dog, Jack, seems to know. He comes over periodically offering his cold nose. He bumps me asking me to play. It works for me, he seems to say. When he realizes I’m not up for his advice, he settles for a rub and a hug and meanders away. Suit yourself, he says. Have it your way.

Of course, I know Jack’s right. The best way to get out of the slumps is to play. It’s why I keep finding rhymes while writing on this way. It’s not as fun as the bouncy ball to Jack, but it helps me get on track. If I keep writing on it won’t be long till I’m back.


Be well,

Monty

2022 Intentions – February Reflections

I wrote about my 2022 Intentions (as an alternative to resolutions) during the new year. After wrapping up February it’s time to reflect again. As a reminder, “intentions” are the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day. The intent is to do (be) my best on any given day…in any given moment. There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.

As I write this I’m recovering (I hope!) from a pretty nasty cold which has me in a bit of a downer mood, but I fully expect this to be a temporary situation and I’m putting the work in everyday to get through these periodic troughs.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

My first 2022 Intention was to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up. Given my normal sleep patterns I decided to wake and get up at 5 a.m. (with a 9-9:30 sleep target to ensure I got enough sleep to feel rested). In January, I had lived into this intention every day and the same is true for February.

How do I feel? I’m still feeling GREAT (aside from the darn cold, that is)! Waking up early is the gift that gives back as it gives me the time and energy to do anything else that I want to do in any given day.

#2 Intention: Move

My second 2022 Intention was to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here was whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move.

In January, I had made significant gains in my movement with exercising in some fashion everyday. For the most, part I’ve continued to increase my rate of movement in February. I did have a couple days (yesterday and today) that I didn’t clock any exercise, but I’ve got a cold and it’s perfectly reasonable to rest my body. That’s the great thing about intentions vs. resolutions. Missing a day is just a minor blip. No worries.

I averaged just over 9300 steps per day in February (about double my six-month average).

I averaged 1.5 hours exercise per day in February (about 30 minutes longer than my six-month average).

For the most part my day included 20-35 minutes of yoga, 45-60 minutes of walking, and I also added indoor bicycling this month as I got myself a “semi-smart” exercise bike as a new toy to play with this year. I look forward to more rides during March.

How do I feel? Still GREAT! Definitely feel the exercise is improving my overall mood and resilience both physically and mentally.

#3 Intention: Be

My third 2022 Intention was to “Be”. To meditate each day. In January, I meditated every morning for about 10 minutes and I kept that up during February. According to my tracking App, I’ve now meditated for 57 days in a row. Not bad.

How do I feel? At this point I think you know…I feel GREAT! I know. I know. It’s getting repetitive (again), but it’s the truth.

#4 Intention: Create

My fourth 2022 Intention was to “Create”. To write and or create art each day. In January, I wrote every day at least once and often created an illustration as well. The same has been true for February. In, fact I’ve generated over 100 written (often illustrated) pieces so far this year.

How do I feel? Inspired! (Thought I was going to say great, didn’t you?). There is nothing like creating something from nothing. I love it. Some of the poetry pieces I feel good enough about to try and publish. Fun stuff!


Well there they are. My 2022 February reflections. I’m feeling very positive about my intentions and I don’t have any adjustments to make at this time.

How about you?

Be well,

Monty


Daily Droppings: “I Can’t Wait”

Special thanks to Sandra from What Sandra Thinks who created a series of daily prompts for the month of February which are the source of inspiration for this series.


The prompt: “I Can’t Wait”


I spent so much of my life wishing it away. Hoping to fast forward or, better yet, skip ahead to the end. It’s taken a lot of hard work and self-care, but I’m grateful that today “I can wait”.


Content Warning: References to self-harm and suicidal ideation.


Breathless

I see him there in my memory

a boy no older than two times three

sitting on those stairs

not anticipating future back stares

from an older self in therapy

 

He becomes smudged and blurry

as I uncover what I had tried to bury

my eyes becoming wet

seeing him on that step

now crying uncontrollably

 

He was just a small child earnestly

but with uncertainty

trying his best

to close out his breath

and wishing so desperately

 

Having thought quite stupidly

squeezing his neck tightly

would take away his pain

which wasn’t insane

for a child of only two times three

 

He felt unlovable and lonely

I know, for this wasn’t just some story

of a boy and his sadness

or the beginning of his madness

it was my found history

 

Having failed miserably

I had given-up patiently

and I’m not really surprised

there was no demise

as this was to become a lifetime study


Be well,

Monty

Daily Droppings: “You Knew?”

With #bloganuary out of the way, it’s now time for something fresh as we (hopefully) ease out of winter and into an early spring. Luckily, I’m not the only one that’s been thinking about this and Sandra from What Sandra Thinks has created a series of daily prompts for the month of February. Looking over the prompts, I felt they had a lot of promise so, let’s do this!

Thanks to Giggling Fattie at No Love for Fatties for her post that introduced the opportunity. And, of course, special thanks to Sandra for all of the inspiration.

At the risk of setting myself up for disappointment, I’m going to go ahead and title this series “Daily Droppings” and plan to post daily. Hopefully I can get plenty of “mental fiber” and stick to a regular schedule.


The prompt: “You Knew?”


My son, 20 years old this month and at university, recently admitted to me that he used to read my journal. In his words “You were really messed up”. I don’t disagree (except for maybe his use of the past tense). I was shocked about what he knew about me all these years and never mentioned. Yes, he totally violated my privacy, but all I could think about was how did he ever stay silent all those years? How did reading my very personal words impact him?

I started journaling as part of therapy. I’d been suffering chronic pain and depression since my early childhood and I finally accepted that I needed help. And I finally wanted help versus a permanent escape.

My journal was a mind dump of the darkest thoughts that crossed my mind. I confessed to thoughts I never knew I had. I never realized how angry and repressed I was until I started to journal. I scrawled nasty and hateful thoughts. Dark fantasies. Detailed recounts of suicide attempts and future plans. Interspersed with moments of gratitude, love, and light. I wrote wildly and never read my entries. I just purged and moved on. I can’t imagine what it was like for my son to read my words. Did he think these were just thoughts and crazy writings? Or did he believe that those written words were truer than the ones I spoke?

I’m too afraid to ask him. While, I’ve made much progress with my mental health, I’m just not ready to know. My son has struggled with his own mental health and I’m still working through my role in his illness. I know there are genetics at play, but I fear the damage I’ve done. Not by my words never intended to be read, but by my actions (and inactions). I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t know that I need to know.

All I know is that I love my son. Yes, I worry for him, but I also believe in him. Hope for him. And hope that he reads and believes these words too.


“My Child” – originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts

Be well,

Monty

2022 Intentions – January Reflections

I wrote about my 2022 Intentions (as an alternative to resolutions) during the new year. After wrapping up January it’s time to reflect. As a reminder, “intentions” are the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day. The intent is to do (be) my best on any given day…in any given moment. There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

My first 2022 Intention was to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up. Given my normal sleep patterns I decided to wake and get up at 5 a.m. (with a 9-9:30 sleep target to ensure I got enough sleep to feel rested). In January, I awoke at or before 5 a.m. every day and my average time asleep was just over 7 hours. So I’ve been living into this intention quite well.

How do I feel? GREAT! My energy and motivation is way up. I get done with my morning routine by 6am and am ready to face the day without any rush. If I feel tired during the day, I take a nap (naps are great too!).

#2 Intention: Move

My second 2022 Intention was to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here was whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move. In January, I made significant improvement in my movement. I exercised every day at least once and sometimes twice. Yoga was part of my morning routine so I did it everyday (I increased from 10 minutes to 15 minutes over the course of the month and did several 30 minute sessions as well). I also started walking. When working from home and the weather was favorable I took a ~6km walk when I had a free block in between meetings. When at work I took a shorter lunch time walk. I got major blisters the first time as I walked in my work shoes so I bought an extra pair of sneakers to keep at the office just so I could walk. I walked 16 times this month. On average I worked out for an average of 1 hour a day since I started tracking mid-month.

How do I feel? GREAT! I’m feeling much better about myself. I’m still well below average in cardio fitness level (I invested in an Apple Watch to help me better understand and track my heart health), but I’m slowly improving and most importantly I feel highly motivated to continue.

#3 Intention: Be

My third 2022 Intention was to “Be”. To meditate each day. In January, I meditated every morning for about 10 minutes depending on the length of my preferred guided meditation length. I did my meditation after my yoga practice so I was awake enough not to fall asleep. I got myself a meditation cushion with back support which has been good support and I’ve been able to really get into the flow this month. I also sprinkled in some additional meditations during the month when I needed to give my mind a break.

How do I feel? GREAT! I know. I know. It’s getting repetitive, but it’s the truth. I’ve had a number of stressful situations this month at work and they sometimes got me a bit off kilter, but I was able to use meditation to recalibrate myself and my priorities each time.

#4 Intention: Create

My fourth 2022 Intention was to “Create”. To write and or create art each day. In January, I wrote every day at least once and often created an illustration as well. I participated in a blogging event called #bloganuary that provided a writing prompt every day. Here’s a recap. In total, I posted 48 times in January on my blog. I also started to try to learn how to sketch this month and spent a lot of time working on basic skills.

How do I feel? Inspired! (Thought I was going to say great, didn’t you?). There is nothing like creating something from nothing. I love it. I also moved my blog onto WordPress this month which allowed for much more interaction via comments, which I found very rewarding and motivating.


Well there they are. My 2022 January reflections. I’m feeling very positive about my intentions and I don’t have any adjustments to make at this time. I do want to get a smart exercise bike so I can do some more cardio besides walking (especially when the weather is not cooperative). I’m waiting for my annual bonus to come in then will make the splurge.

With #bloganuary over, I’m not sure how I will approach February yet for the blog. I’m open to posting daily again if I’m inspired (if you’re aware of any February daily prompts, please let me know). But I can always write and draw for myself without feeling the need to post. Posting and getting some feedback and interaction is a bonus, but the true value is in the creating.

How about you?

Be well,

Monty


Words Matter

29th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)


The Prompt: How are you changing the world?


One word at a time.


“Polaris” – originally published in Thirteen Words

Be well,

Monty


Self Love

26th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)


The Prompt: What is your favorite part about yourself?


What a strange question. Am I to dissect myself into different parts and judge them against each other? How does my left pinkie toe compare vs. the birthmark I have on my cheek? What are the criteria? I don’t think I’ve studied this subject before. I’m feeling wholly unqualified to properly execute this request.

So, I’m inclined to cheat on this one. Why not love my whole self? Why play favorites? If pressed, I guess I would have to say my brain/mind? After all, that’s what makes me me and not just a random sack of meat. But if you asked me to give up my left pinkie toe, I’d argue I’m better whole than in bits and pieces. So I’ll politely ask not to be dissected. At least not until I’m deceased, then take all my parts worth anything and give them to those in need. There most be someone needing a new left pinkie toe.


“Mockingbird” – originally published in Thirteen Words

Be well,

Monty